All Quiet on the Western Front: A Film Review

Director Edward Berger takes us back to the horrors of WWI

More stories from Marshall Lisenby


All Quiet on the Western Front (2022) is Edward Berger’s adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s World War I novel.

The film follows a 17-year-old boy, Paul Bäumerl, and his friends as they go from enthusiastic German citizens to disillusioned, war-torn shells of their former selves.

Marked by suspense, gore, grief, and terror, Berger brings the viewer on a wild ride through the brutal trench warfare typical of the First World War.

The movie starts with the boys receiving an inspiring speech from a military officer, urging them to join the war force and glorifying the praise and spoils of battle.

As soon as they enlist, they quickly realize it is not what they thought it would be as one of their friends, Ludwig, is obliterated by an artillery shell on their first night at the front.

From then on out, Paul slowly loses all hope as his close friends are taken one-by-one and as death, disease, and destruction envelop him.

The movie brilliantly highlights the brutality and destruction of war with its masterful cinematography and camera use. Vivid scenes of hectic combat, coupled with a suspenseful soundtrack, lure the audience onto the edge of their seats. But just as equally, Berger often contrasts the war with peaceful and quiet moments, allowing the viewer to reflect on the destruction unfolding before them.

Furthermore, the film also expertly demonstrates the psychological affects of warfare and the trauma that it can instill. The enthusiastic schoolboys quickly lose their innocence on the first night, and for those who survive, they slowly creep towards insanity, clinging on to the last of hopes to maintain any source of will to live.

Hours before the ceasefire is official, after losing everything, including all his friends, Paul loses all hope as he is sent on one final crusade.

Charging into the last battle, his face lacks any emotion, and he kills as many French as he can. As the clock strikes the 11th hour, the end of the war, he is stabbed in the back, left to die on the battlefield that had already taken so much from him.

The viewer is left alone with the weight of Paul’s tragedy, and the movie instills a whirlwind of emotions, including guilt, grief, and despair, into their hearts as the credits roll.

All Quiet on the Western Front is a suspenseful, intriguing wartime movie that I would recommend to everyone.

As long as you can get past the sub-par voice acting for the German-to-English dub, the movie will guarantee a wild ride of emotion as you watch Paul’s slow and tragic plunge into insanity.

Berger’s film, staring Felix Kammerer as Paul, is currently streaming on Netflix.